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Thai Catholics urged to voice opposition to planned law allowing early-stage abortions

Thailand’s bishops are urging Catholics to make known their opposition to a proposed amendment that would permit women up to 12 weeks pregnant to have an abortion.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Thailand (CBCT) wrote a letter to the country’s bishops and heads of religious congregations inviting them to join in its opposing of the proposed amendment to Thailand’s criminal law concerning abortion.

The amendment would allow women to have the abortion within the 12-week time frame for any reason. The cabinet-sponsored bill was passed on Christmas Eve and it is now being put to a scrutiny committee in the Thai parliament, reported Bangkok Post.

Under the amended section, penalties are also reduced for women getting abortion when the pregnancies are beyond the 12-week period. Final approvals of the amendment are expected to be done by early February.

Issued on Jan. 14, the CBCT letter invited members to gather signatures from church goers and members of religious organizations and return the signatures to the CBCT by Jan. 25.

The bishops’ letter also said they had reaffirmed the Church’s position on abortion to Thailand’s House of Representatives, the Senate, as well as the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Religions, Morals, Ethics, Arts and Culture.

Thailand’s law currently criminalizes abortions regardless of the age of the unborn child but does allow abortion under certain circumstances, including if a mother was raped or the life of the mother was at risk. Abortion, as it presently stands, is punishable by up to three years in jail, a fine or up to 60,000 baht (US $2,000) or both.

The Catholic Church has consistently defended the sanctity of the life of the unborn child from the very moment of conception and have condemned the act of abortion. Abortion is also considered a sin akin to murder in the Theravada Buddhism adhered to by the majority of Thais.

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